The appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) is the certification granted by the French government to ensure that all wines, cheese and certain agricultural products are produced in the region of their origin, in the traditional manner, using specific ingredients.
For example a sparkling white wine may only be called a champagne if is produced in the Champagne region of France using specific grapes; and a Beaufort cheese may only bear that name if it has been made from the milk of Tarentaise or Abondance cows in the region of Beaufort in the time-honoured fashion.
There is a strict labeling policy which means that only items that adhere to the guidelines can bear the AOC seal on its label or rind. This ensures a certain amount of quality control and protects the heritage of many quintessentially French products.
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